March 10, 2021
Timeless Roger Federer took his first step towards Wimbledon 2021 and looked immensely impressive in Qatar.
If this is what we can expect at Wimbledon, we are in for a serious treat!
The fans couldn’t get enough of him after that long absence from the sporting stage.
And Federer almost looks ready for Wimbledon’s Centre Court now!
He beat Dan Evans 7-6 (10-8), 3-6, 7-5 in a veritable thriller. Irrepressible Roger won the battle of the nerves and showed superior willpower just when it mattered.
Federer’s last winner was poetry in motion and the crowd rose to a true master of his craft. This spectacle just couldn’t have been much better for tennis-lovers.
How lucky we all are that the legend is back on song!
Above all, Roger looks like the same brilliant player of old. He remains the most mesmerising star that tennis will ever have.
Wimbledon fans have reason to be very excited indeed as they start to plan for the summer.
And Federer couldn’t contain his own excitement at what he had just produced.
He said: ‘It feels good to be back. It would have been the same, win or lose. Winning feels better though!
‘Dan played a great match too. We have played more than twenty sets in the last few weeks together.
‘I was tired. I just said: “You know what? If I’m going to go out, I’m going out swinging.” At the end maybe he helped me out a little but it was nice to finish the match with a backhand down the line.
‘I think I played a great match and I really enjoyed it. It’s very special that we can have fans and you guys were fantastic. We appreciate it all.
‘It’s not an easy time for the world and I hope tonight was a bit of an uplift.’
This was certainly an inspirational sight for anyone looking forward to Wimbledon 2021.
The drama took several twists and turns as we lapped up the action and scarcely dared to believe the quality on show.
The favourite had match point as Evans served to stay in it at 4-5. But Dan The Man survived with a wonderful forehand volley.
Roger should also have set up a second match point during a duel at the net but couldn’t find the killer touch.
So near yet so far. Memories of the Wimbledon 2019 final for a fleeting moment.
As you might expect from a man so short of match practice, Roger’s most potent magic came in the first set.
The level was so high and the great tennis flowed so soon in his comeback that it was almost unreasonable to expect it could last.
And yet Federer summoned fresh genius to see out the job in the end.
The boyish enthusiasm is clear for all to see. Practically the entire world is on his side.
There were cheers and even screams of adoration as Federer took to the court in Qatar.
There was a moment of comedy too, before the real action started.
Roger laughed at his own mistake after he had waited for someone to organise his towel, only to be reminded that he now has to attend to such things himself.
Times have changed but not Federer. He looked lean, mean and surprisingly youthful as his serve went to work early on.
Evans proved a worthy opponent, though. He gave Roger just the test he wanted and even had a set-point in the tie-break.
But nothing seemed to worry Federer because he was clearly so happy to be back.
Roger laughed again as he blew a drive-volley and his second set-point in that epic first-set tie-break.
But he clinched the opener with a breath-taking backhand pass.
Dominic Thiem watched in awe, the number one seed a Federer fan just like everyone else.
He had already progressed after a tough 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-2 victory over the tricky Russian, Aslan Karatsev.
But the likeable Austrian couldn’t resist the draw of the main event.
The result didn’t matter as much as the performance. We checked all the elements to his game.
The composure was there as he saved the Evans set-point with sheer class.
Could Federer still glide effortlessly around the court? His movement seemed to belong to a man half his age.
Could he still raise his game for the big points?
The answer was an emphatic yes. And that augers so well for Wimbledon 2021.
We’re not going to get a fading Federer at the big tournament. We’re going to have the real deal!
The great man made it perfectly clear before he took on Dan Evans in Dubai how his mind was working.
Wimbledon 2021 is where Federer wants to be one hundred per cent fit.
That is where his season really starts. Everything else is practice.
We had already told you it was all about Wimbledon, even before Roger confirmed it.
But his first ATP match in thirteen months was still going to be important, if only to get the ball rolling.
Of course, Roger wasn’t perfect and Dan The Man is always dangerous.
In the opening set, Federer saved a break point at 4-4 with a couple of thumping forehands. He held after warming to the pressure.
There was even more intensity in the tie-break. After taking a 2-1 lead, Federer went 4-2 down. That’s when he seemed to step up a gear to stay in it.
The best shot of the breaker was a seemingly impossible Federer forehand winner, in response to an Evans shot that the British number one probably thought had already ended the argument.
Yes, Roger Federer still has the power to amaze in his fortieth year.
But perhaps it wasn’t surprising that the early adrenalin surge was going to wear off at some point.
Federer’s first-serve percentage dropped to 58 per cent in the second set and that was always going to create problems.
Sure enough, Evans broke to lead 4-1 and ask more questions of the all-time-great. This time the brilliant Swiss couldn’t dent the younger man’s resolve.
In the final set both men probed and came close to breaking the other. It made for enthralling viewing.
Who would crumble first? The answer was Evans.
We love the Brit and applaud all his improvements. He too will thrill at Wimbledon 2021.
But the night belonged to Federer. Wimbledon might just belong to him too, come July.
Who could resist the temptation to be there?